Omicron tip adds to hospitality industry difficulties

After living through almost two years of a pandemic, the hospitality industry is once again hit hard as the Omicron variant has forced many people to stay at home and avoid travel during the holidays.

Cheryl Finn, Director of Tourism London, said: “We knew the winter would be bad. But we never saw Omicron coming. No one saw it coming.

She is one of the many people who have been hoping to see businesses get back on track this holiday season. But with the unexpected arrival of the Omicron variant, Finn says the tourism industry is grappling with yet another year of setbacks.

“Companies, workers who relied on the holiday season to run them through January, February and March, have faced a lot of cancellations,” Finn said. “Just when we start to develop a bit of traction and think we’re out of the darker times, we’re back there.”

When restrictions were announced earlier this month in Ontario, it was only a matter of time before people had to cancel their reservations.

“We’ve definitely had one hell of a setback,” said Ken Price, director of guest services for the Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn & Conference Center.

Price says the restrictions came as no surprise, however, “It certainly has an effect on who is comfortable with traveling, so we saw a few people who decided they were no longer in the area. feel good to stay with us. “

It’s a similar story to the downtown Hilton Doubletree.

The hotel’s general manager told CTV News London over the phone that the celebrations at their hotel had to be canceled because restrictions limited the number of people allowed to congregate inside.

Not to mention the cancellation of several Christmas and New Year’s events in the region.

To help businesses overcome another round of COVID-19-related restrictions, the Ontario government is launching the Ontario Business Expense Reimbursement Program for qualifying businesses. (The list of eligible companies won’t be available until January.)

The program will allow eligible businesses to receive payments equivalent to approximately 50 percent of the property tax and energy costs they incur as long as capacity restrictions are in place.

Concerns about staffing and the future of the industry are also a priority for the tourism industry during this wave.

If the restrictions continue, more places will have to look to the province for financial support.

“As a municipal government, we have always been ready to support our local businesses by defending their names with other levels of government, to make sure they are aware of the levels of support needed on the ground,” said Josh Morgan. , Deputy Mayor of London.

While the hospitality industry isn’t expected to rebound anytime soon, Finn says there will be financial backing for some businesses in the new year.

– With files from Katherine DeClerq of CTV News Toronto


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